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Justices to Finally Resolve Immigration Circuit Split

Oct. 18, 2019, 7:01 PM

A dispute over whether U.S. courts can review deportation cases involving certain immigrants fearing persecution in their home countries will get Supreme Court scrutiny.

The justices agreed Oct. 18 to take up the case of a criminally convicted lawful permanent U.S. resident originally from Lebanon. The issue has split the courts of appeal 8-2. Previous efforts to get the issue before the justices had fallen short.

Nasrallah v. Barr is one of several immigration cases the justices have agreed to tackle this term, including the Trump administration’s plan to wind down the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program applicable to “Dreamers.”

The split here is over whether courts can review factual findings underlying a government refusal to halt the deportation of immigrants convicted of a crime but who argue that they will face persecution or even torture if sent back to their home countries. The Convention Against Torture, a human rights treaty, generally prohibits removal in such cases.

Most circuits have held that federal courts may only review constitutional claims or questions of law underlying such denials. But both the Seventh and Ninth Circuits have held otherwise.

Nidal Khalid Nasrallah claims that he will likely face persecution from groups like Hezbollah and ISIS because of his religious affiliation.

The U.S. sought his removal after he was convicted for knowingly receiving stolen cigarettes with a total wholesale value of more than $500,000.

The case is Nasrallah v. Barr, U.S., No. 18-1432, review granted 10/18/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com